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Laer. Say you so? come on.

[They play. Ojr. Nothing neither way. Laer. Have at you now. [Laertes wounds Hamlet; then, in fcufling, they

change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes. King. Part them, they are incens’d. Ham. Nay, come again.

[The queen falls. Ofr. Look to the queen there, ho! Hor. They bleed on both sides :-How is it, my lord? Ofr. How is't, Laertes ?

Laer. Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, Ofrick; I am juftly kill'd with mine own treachery.

Ham. How does the queen ?
King. She swoons to see them bleed.
Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink,- my dear

The drink, the drink;-I am poison'd!

[dies. Ham. O villainy !-Ho! let the door be lock'd: Treachery! seek it out.

[Laertes falls. Laer. It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art lain; No medicine in the world can do thee good, In thee there is not half an hour's life; The treacherous instrument is in thy hand, Unbated, and envenom’d: the foul practice Hath turn'd itself on me; lo, here I lie, Never to rise again: Thy mother's poison'd; I can no more ;--the king, the king's to blame.

Ham. The point envenom’d too! Then, venom, to thy work,

Atabs the king, Ojr. and Lords. Treason! treason! King. O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt.

Ham. Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned Dane, Drink off this potion :- Is the union here 8 ? Follow my mother.

[King dies. Laer. He is justly serv’d;

$ Is ibe union bere? ] Thus the folio. In a former passage in the quarto, 1604, for union we had unice; here it has onyx.

Ti should teen from this line, and Laertes's next speech, that Hamlet here forces the expiring king to drink some of the poisoned cup, and that he dies while it is at his lips. MALONE,

It is a poison temper'd by himself.-
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet :
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee;
Nor thine on me!

Ham. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.
I am dead, Horatio :-Wretched queen, adieu !
You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
That are but mutes or audience to this act',
Had I but time, (as this fell serjeant, death,
Is strict in his arreft',) 0, I could tell you,
But let it be :-Horatio, I am dead;
Thou liv'ft; report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.

Hor. Never believe it;
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane,
Here's yet some liquor left.

Ham. As thou’rt a man, -
Give me the cup; let go; by heaven, l'll have it. -
O God!-Horatio, what a wounded naine,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me 3 ?
If thou didit ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story: [March afar off, and shot within.
What warlike noise is this?
Ofr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Po-

To the ambasadors of England gives
This warlike volley.

Ham. O, I die, Horatio ;

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9 That are but mutes or audience to tbis a{?,] That are either mere auditors of this catastrophe, or at most only mute performers, that hill the stage without any part in the action. JOHNSON.

as ebis fell lerjeant, dearb,
Io ftria in bis arrelt,] So, in our poet's 74th Sonnet:

when that fell arreft,
Witbout all bail, shall carry me away,—.” MALONE.
2 O God!-Horatio, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1604. Folio: O good
Horatio. MALONE.

3 - fall live bebind me?] Thus the folis. The quartos read-hall I leave behind me. STE E VENS. 1


E e 3

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The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit * ;
I cannot live to hear the news from England:
But I do prophesy, the election lights
On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice;
So tell him, with the occurrents 5, more and less,
Which have solicited", The rest is silence. [dies.
Hor. Now cracks a noble heart:~Good night, sweet

prince; And flights of angels fing thee to thy reft?! Why does the drum come hither? [March within

Enter 4 Tbe potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit;] This word, for which Mr. Pope and the succeeding editors have substituted over-grows, is used by Holinthed in his History of Ireland: “ These inoblemen laboured with tooth and nayle to over-crowe, and consequently to overthrow, one another."

Again, in the epistle prefixed to Nashe's Apologie of Pierce Penzielle, 1593: “ About two yeeres fince a certayne demi-divine took upon him to let his foote to mine, and over-crowe mee with comparative terms."

MALONE. the occurrents,] i. e. incidents. The word is now disused. So, in Tbe Hog barb lof bis Pearl, 1614:

“Such strange occurrents of my fore-past life." STEEVENS. 6 W'bicb bave solicited,-) What Hamlet would have said, the poet has not given us any ground for conjecturing. By solicited, Dr. War. burton understands, brought on tbe event.

The words seem to mean no more than-wbicb bave incited me to MALONE. 7 Now cracks a noble heart:-Good night, sweet prince;

And fights of angels fing tbce to thy reft!] So, in Pericles, Prince of Tyri, 1009:

“ It'thou liv'it, Pericles, thou hast a beart,

“ That even cracks for woe." The concluding words of the unfortunate Lord Eflex's prayer on the scaffold were thele: “ -and when my life and body shall part, send i by blessedangels, wbicb may receive my soule, ard convey it torbe joys of beaven."

Hamlet had certainly been exhibited before the execution of that amiable nobleman; but the words here given to Horatio might have been one of the many additions made to this play. As no copy of an earlier date than 1604 has yet been discovered, whether Lord Efex's last words were in our authour's thoughts, cannot now be ascertained.

MALONE. Let us review for a moment the behaviour of Hamlet, on the strength of which Horatio founds this eulogy, and recommends him to the patronage of angels.

Hamlet, at the command of his father's ghost, undertakes with seeming alacrity to revenge the murder; and declares he will wanith all other thoughts from his mind. He makes, however, but one ef


Enter FORTINBRAS, the English Ambassadors, and

Others. Fort. Where is this fight?

Hor, fort to keep his word, and that is, when he mistakes Polonius for the king. On another occasion, he defers his purpose till he can find an opportunity of taking his uncle when he is lealt prepared for death, that he may inture damnation to his soul. Though he atatlinated Polonius by accident, yet he deliberately procures the execution of his school-fellows, Rolencrantz and Guilderstern, who appear to have been unacquainted with the treacherous purposes of the mandate which they were employed to carry. Their death (as he declares in a suble. quent conversation with Horatio) gives him no concern, for they obtruded themselves into the service, and he thought he had a right to destroy them. He is not less accountable for the distraction and death of Ophelia. He comes to interrupt the funeral designed in honour of this lady, at which both the king and queen were present; and, by such an outrage to decency, renders it ftill more neceflary for the usurper to lay a second stratagem for his life, though the first had proved abortive. He comes to insult the brother of the dead, and to boast of an affection for his fister, which, before, he had denied to her face; and yet at this very time must be considered as desirous of supporting the character of a madman, so that the openness of his confellion is not to be imputed to him as a virtue. He apologizes to Horatio afterwards for the absurdity of this behaviour, to which, he says, he was provoked by that nobleness of fraternal grief, which, indeed, he ought rather to have applauded than condemned. Dr. Johnson has observed, that to bring about a reconciliation with Laertes, he has availed himself of a dishonest fallacy; and to conclude, it is obvious to the moit careless spectator or reader, that he kills the king at lait to revenge himself, and not his father.

Hamlet cannot be said to have pursued his ends by very warrantable means; and if the poet, when he sacrificed himn at laft, meant to have enforced fuch a moral, it is not the worit that can be deduced from the play; for, as Maximus, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Valen. tiniun, says,

“ Although his justice were as white as truth,

6 His way was crooked to it; that condemns him." The late Dr. Akenlide once oblerved to me, that the conduct of Hamlet was every way unnatural and indefenfiole, unless he were to be regarded as a young man whose intellects were in fome degree impaired by his own misfortunes ; by the death of his father, the loss of expected sovereignty, and a sense of fame resulting from the hairy and incestuous marriage of his mother.

I have dwelt the longer on this subject, because Hamlet seems to have been hitherto regarded as a hero not undeserving the pity of the audience; and becaule no writer on Shakspeare has taken the pains to point out the immoral tendency of his character. STEEVENS. Ee 4


Hor. What is it, you would see?
If aught of woe, or wonder, cease your search.


Some of the charges here brought again A Hamlet appear to me questionable at least, if not unfounded. I have already observed that in the novel on which is constructed, the ministers who by the king's order accompanied the young prince to England, and carried with them a packet in which his death was concerted, were apprized of its contents; and therefore we may presume that Shakspeare meant to describe their representatives, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as equally criminal; as combining with the king to deprive Hamlet of his liie. His procuring their execution therefore does not with certainty appear to have been an unprovoked cruelty, and migbe have been confidered by him as necessary to his future safety; knowing, as he must have known, that they had devoted themielves to the fervice of the king in whatever he should command. The principle on which he acted, is ascertained by the following lines, from which also it may be inferred that the poet meant to represent Hamlet's school-fellows as privy to the plot against his life :

“ There's letters seald : and my two school-fellows
" Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
“ They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way,
“ And marshall me to knavery: Let it work;
“ For 'tis the sport, to have the engineer
“ Hoist with his own petar; and it shall go hard,
“ But I will delve one yard below ebeir mines,

sind blow ibem to the moon.Another charge is, that be comes to disturb obe funeral of Opbelia :" but the fact is otherwise represented in the first scene of the fifth act : for when the funeral procession appears, (which he does not seek, but finds,) he exclaims,

“ The queen, the courtiers: who is this obey follow,

And with such maimed rites?" nor does he know it to be the funeral of Ophelia, till Laertes mentions that the dead body was that of his fifter.

I do not perceive that he is accountable for the madness of Ophelia, He did not mean to kill her father when concealed behind the arras, but the king; and still less did he interd to deprive her of her reason and her life: her sublequent distraction therefore can no otherwise be laid to his charge, than as an unforeseen consequence from his too ardently purluing the object recommended to him by his father.

He appears to have been induced to leap into Ophelia's grave, not with a delign to infult Laertes, but from his love to her, (which then he had no reason to conceal,) and from the bravery of ber brorber's grief, which excited him (not to condemn that brother, as has been Aated, but) to vie with him in the expression of afiection and forrow:

of Why,

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